Photo gallery: Tournament of Roses 2018 Grand Marshal Gary Sinise

Gary Sinise and Pres. Lance Tibbet at the announcement of the 2018 Rose Parade Grand Marshal. Photo by LB Monteros

by Laura Berthold Monteros 

The pictures tell the story—Gary Sinise accepts the honor to serve as the Grand Marshal for the 129th Rose Parade and 104th Rose Bowl Game for Jan. 1, 2017 from Pres. Lance Tibbet. Sinise was chosen for his exceptional humanitarian work with veterans and first responders. He embodies the theme “Making a Difference.” For more about the ceremony, read “Gary Sinise, humanitarian and actor, is Grand Marshal for 2018 Rose Parade.”

Preceding the announcement, the crowd was entertained with numbers from the World War II era played by the Fabus Four and sung by the San Andreas Sisters. The group was every bit as tight as swing era bands and had the style down to a T. Here’s their rendition of “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”  We apologize for the quality of the video!

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Gary Sinise, humanitarian and actor, is Grand Marshal for 2018 Rose Parade

Gary Sinise, Grand Marshal of the 2018 Rose Parade, shakes hand with Pres. Lance Tibbett. Photo by LB Monteros

by Laura Berthold Monteros

Media and guests were entertained by the San Andreas Sisters swing singers before the announcement, so guesses about World War II vets or actors in WWII movies, since one of the hints beforehand was about the Academy Awards, were rampant. Tournament of Roses President Lance Tibbet took the stage and dropped the typical hints—“selfless service,” “incredible humanitarian,” “embodiment of the theme,” which is “Making a Difference.”

“The Tournament is about many things,” he said, “…but mostly, it’s about people quietly doing good things.” People who put the “kind” in humankind.

As is the wont of the presidents, Tibbet slowly narrowed the field. This person cofounded a theater company that is a training ground for actors, writers, directors. Charitable and altruistic efforts make this person (no male or female yet) special and unique. He rattled off a list of military-related charities, foundations, and honors, including an Academy Award nomination for a 1994 movie.

And then the name was announced: Gary Sinise. Perhaps his best known acting role was as Lt. Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump, but his work with veterans, military, and first responders is the stuff of legend. Since the Tournament of Roses has posted a press release with all his many activities, we will cut to the remarks he made in accepting this latest honor.

Sinise opened with a story about the time he lived in Pasadena. In front of his house was a speed hump with the word BUMP painted on the street. “Someone painted out the ‘B’ and made it ‘G’, he said. A few days later, a Pasadena Police officer dropped by to warn him that there had been some burglaries, and asked if he had seen anything suspicious. And then the officer handed the actor a script!

“We moved to Malibu after that,” he said.

Sinise loves the Rose Parade, and watched enviously when he lived in wintry Chicago. When he moved to Southern California, he wanted to be part of it. Standing behind the lectern as the new Grand Marshal, he grinned, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.”

“I feel blessed,” he said, after mentioning that he is looking forward to bringing his first grandchild, now only two months old, to the parade. Later, we were able to ask if he enjoyed being a grandad. “Oh, yeah, she’s a beautiful little thing, beautiful!” he proudly replied. We remarked that he is getting her off to a good start, taking her to the parade.

Sinise told another reporter that he was so touched when he got the call inviting him to serve. In his acceptance speech, he said that it will be an opportunity for him to do something positive for veterans and Gold Star families.

“If shining a little spotlight on me can shine a spotlight on them, I am very glad to do it,” he said.

A photo gallery of the event is posted!

Guessing game: Who will the 2018 Rose Parade Grand Marshal be?

by Laura Berthold Monteros

There are two questions people ask when it comes to the Tournament of Roses Grand Marshal: Who will it be? and When will it be announced?” The answer to the second is probably the last week in October, but the answer to the first is up for grabs. Who will ride down Colorado Blvd. in a spiffy car at the Rose Parade on Jan. 1, 2018? Guess along with me.

Some clues

Courtesy Pasadena Tournament of Roses
  • The theme of the 129th Tournament of Roses is “Making a Difference.” Pres. Lance Tibbet describes it as celebrating “the power of kindness and the people in our communities that make a positive difference without reservation.”
  • There are some key words that stand out. “Communities” implies local difference-makers, those people who may not be terribly famous, but who see a need and meet it. “Without reservation” might imply that the person acts without considering what it might cost her personally, and without any idea of gaining from it herself. “Kindness” is especially important. The Grand Marshal will not be someone who only gives money.
  • The poster, which looks like a grafitti-covered wall, has a graphic that reads “human + kind” with u + i in light blue letters. This might mean that the Grand Marshal will be someone who makes a difference by enabling others to do so.

Some history

  • Will it be a woman? While it would be wonderful to have a woman—in 129 years, there have only been 14 different woman who sat in the Grand Marshal’s seat. All except two of these women were either entertainers or athletes. Five of them were co-Grand Marshals with men. (Though Shirley Temple, who served three times, was only in a group once.)
  • Only the two female presidents picked women who were not in the above classification. Libby Wright chose Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor in 2006, and Sally Bixby chose Dame Jane Goodall in 2013.
  • While Dwight D. Eisenhower was popular as a general and President, it is highly unlikely that any politician or general would be chosen today. The last politician was then-Congressman Ben Nighthorse Campbell, who was asked at the last minute to counterbalance the uncomfortable choice of His Grace Cristobol Colon in 1992.
  • Probably no First Ladies, either, though Michelle Obama with children’s health and Laura Bush with reading would honor both the office of the First Lady and the office of Grand Marshal.
  • Supreme Court Justices come with a double whammy: politics and the tendency for it to rain buckets when they serve.

Some conjectures from Facebook

  • Oprah Winfrey is at the top of the list for many people who follow “All Things Rose Parade” on Facebook.
  • Tommy Lasorda’s name was put into the hat, as was Jimmy Carter’s—two very different men.
  • Father Gregory Boyle, who founded Homeboy Industries here in Los Angeles, was a suggestion, because “He has touched so many lives despite great risk to himself at times.”
  • A list of women was submitted, with their accomplishments: Jody Williams who won the Nobel Peace prize, union organizer Dolores Huerta, the Mothers of East LA who prevented the prison from being built in their community, Penny Newman, who fought to get the Stringfellow Acid Pits cleaned up.
  • And from yours truly, Bill & Melinda Gates, for the work of their foundation; Gustavo Dudamel for the energy he has brought to music in Los Angeles, public schools, and all over the country; Josh Gad for calling critically ill children and speaking to them as Olaf from Frozen; or an organization, such as Doctors Without Borders.

These are all good guesses, but my peanuts are on Jimmy Carter and his wife Roslyn. They put their hands to the plow as well as in their pockets. They hammer and saw for Habitat for Humanity and travel around the world to monitor elections. Among many projects, the Carter Center has worked to eradicate diseases and vectors such as Guinea worm, river blindness, malaria, and others. Roslyn took an active part in the Presidency, sitting in on cabinet meetings and offering advice. Jimmy wrote many books on peace and reconciliation, including one directed at middle schoolers. He won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize for the Carter Center’s work “to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development.”

What are your guesses?


Los Angeles and Grand Marshals make a rosy bid for the 2024 Olympics at the Rose Parade (photos)

An angel for the City of Angels, a sunburst for sunny Southern California, and a rainbow for the variety of cultures and experiences in the area—what could say LA more fittingly? The LA 2024 Olympics logo bursts from the iconic Olympic venue, the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on the 2017 Los Angeles Rose Parade float..
The LA 2024 Olympics logo bursts from the iconic LA Memorial Coliseum.

by Laura Berthold Monteros

In choosing the three co-Grand Marshals for the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade, Pres. Brad Ratliff had a brilliant idea, but it came rather later in the game that usual. In conjunction—or perhaps collusion—with the City of Los Angeles’ float entry, “Follow the Sun,” he chose three Olympians who are also coincidently part of the LA 2024 Olympic bid effort. The float was announced earlier in the year, but the Grand Marshals weren’t announced until November, 2016. They only had a few weeks’ notice before being publicly presented.

Be sure to check out the photo gallery at the end for more about the float and the Grand Marshals.

The Olympians, Janet Evans, Greg Louganis, and Allyson Felix, followed the 119th consecutive Los Angeles float in the Rose Parade on Jan. 2, 2017. The float was presented by Los Angeles Tourism & Convention Board and LA 2024, and featured the beloved symbol of the Los Angeles Olympics, whether 1932, 1984, or 2024—the iconic peristyle and flaming torch of the Memorial Coliseum. The city is the US Candidate City for the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and Evans serves as the Vice Chairperson and Chair of the LA 2024 Bid Committee’s Athletes’ Commission and Director of Athlete Continue reading “Los Angeles and Grand Marshals make a rosy bid for the 2024 Olympics at the Rose Parade (photos)”

Grand Marshals Evans, Louganis, and Felix try out their Rose Parade rides

by Laura Berthold Monteros

We were tipped off that the three Grand Marshals and their families would be at the car decorating tent on Saturday to sit in the classic automobiles that will drive them down Colorado Blvd. in the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade. The parade is held on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 because of the “Never on Sunday” rule. Olympians Janet Evans, Greg Louganis, and Allison Felix climbed into the cars with huge grins on their faces. Be sure to take a look at the photos below.

FTD floral designer J. Keith White, AIFD CFD, has decorated the vehicles used in the parade for a dozen years. He chooses colors and floral materials that complement the color and design of the cars. Or buses, trolleys, and mule team wagons that he is called on to beautify for the Rose Parade. None of the three Grand Marshal cars—a 1915 Pierce Arrow for Evans, a 1937 Bentley for Louganis, and a 1911 Pope-Hartford for Felix—has been in the Rose Parade before. All will be driven by their owners, and White made sure that each one has the Olympic rings on the front.

128th Tournament of Roses Parade Order of March

by Laura Berthold Monteros

The 128th Rose Parade takes place on Monday, Jan. 2, 2017 in Pasadena, Calif. and features spectacular marching bands, costumed equestrians, and of course, flower-covered floats. There are nearly 100 entries for the 2017 parade.

The Order of March is a bit unusual. The Tournament of Roses President, Brad Ratliff, appears rather late in the parade at No. 65, just ahead of his hometown float, La Cañada Flintridge. Like 2014 Pres. Scott Jenkins, he’ll be in a wagon pulled by equines. Speaking of equines, it is rare for two equestrian units to be placed back-to-back in the Rose Parade, but the Union Rescue Mission and Philippine Scouts are this year at Nos. 77 and 78. The LAUSD All District High School Honor Band is paired with the National Hockey League float, probably hoping for another Stanley Cup win by the LA Kings.

Tournament block:

Entries No. 33 through 48 all have a strong Tournament of Roses connection and lots of star power. It’s the largest block of Tournament-related entries we’ve seen. The City of Los Angeles float, which is the longest-standing Rose Parade float entry, drums up interest in hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. It’s followed by the three Grand Marshals, all award-winning Olympians, and includes the 2018 Queen and Court, 2017 Rose Bowl Game Hall of Fame inductees, Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek, Rose Parade founders Valley Hunt Club, and retiring Tournament of Roses Executive Director/CEO William B. Flinn. Flinn, the conductor of The Salvation Army’s Pasadena Tabernacle Band, is followed by The Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band, one of three bands guaranteed a Rose Parade slot. Floats are presenting sponsors Miracle-Gro (post-parade Showcase of Floats) and Northwestern Mutual (Rose Bowl Game), and the two Rose Bowl Game teams. The PCC Herald Trumpets and Tournament of Roses Honor Band, and the two Rose Bowl university bands provide music.

Order of March

Continue reading “128th Tournament of Roses Parade Order of March”

Greg Louganis, Janet Evans, Allyson Felix are 2017 Rose Parade Grand Marshals

The three Grand Marshals for the 2017 Rose Parade, Greg Louganis, Janet Evans, and Allyson Felix are happy to be on stage with Sam the Olympic Eagle from the 1984 Los Angeles games. The announcement took place on Nov. 3, 2016. All photos copyright 2016 Laura Berthold Monteros


by Laura Berthold Monteros

This morning at Tournament House in Pasadena, the biggest secret in town was revealed. Pres. Brad Ratliff announced that the Grand Marshals of the 128th Tournament of Roses Parade are Allyson Felix, Greg Louganis, and Janet Evans. All three are native Southern Californians who are world famous, multiple Olympic medal winners in multiple years, and world record holders. And all three serve on the LA 2024 Athletes’ Advisory Commission, ensuring that Olympians and Paralympians are involved in all aspects of the plans to bring the Olympic Games to Los Angeles in 2024.

Be sure to check out the album at the end of this article!

Ratliff, who chose the theme “Echoes of Success” for 2017, opened the ceremony by asking, “How cool is it that we’re at the house of the guy who built the World Series champion team?” Tournament House belonged to the William Wrigley family before it was donated to the City of Pasadena for use as the Tournament of Roses headquarters. He continued by rattling off numbers that can be considered indicators of success: 128 Rose Parades, 103 Rose Bowl Games, 935 volunteers and 37 staff members, 120 Grand Marshals, two of whom were puppets.

“All are successful in their own stories, even if their story is narrated by Kermit The Frog or Charlie McCarthy,” Ratliff said. He noted that it’s sometimes difficult to find a Grand Marshal who fits the theme of the year, “but not this year.” Indeed, he found three who are personally successful and whose success echoes in the many people they have inspired. Each swept through the golden curtains draping the front entryway and gave a short speech, and each mentioned that they grew up with the Rose Parade as a family tradition. Rose Queen Victoria Castellanos handed each a bouquet of long-stemmed red roses.  Continue reading “Greg Louganis, Janet Evans, Allyson Felix are 2017 Rose Parade Grand Marshals”

A bittersweet goodbye and a fond memory of Dodgers announcer Vin Scully as Rose Parade Grand Marshal

R. Scott Jenkins, president of the 125th Tournament of Roses, and Vin Scully, legendary Dodgers announcer, at the announcement of the Grand Marshal on Sept. 5, 2013. Copyright 2013 LBM
R. Scott Jenkins, president of the 125th Tournament of Roses, and Vin Scully, legendary Dodgers announcer, at the announcement of the Grand Marshal on Sept. 5, 2013. Copyright 2013 LBM

by Laura Berthold Monteros

With Vin Scully winding down his 67-year career with the Dodgers as the premier play-by-play announcer in baseball, it’s time to reprise the articles we wrote about his long-awaited appearance as Grand Marshal of the Tournament of Roses Parade. We’ve worked them together into one tribute to the Master of the Mic.

“Hi, everybody, and a pleasant Thursday to you!” Vin Scully said when he took the lectern at Tournament House on Sept. 5, 2013.  As his signature opening line, he laughed, “I just had to say that.”  The Dodger play-by-play announcer was the choice of Tournament of Roses President R. Scott Jenkins to be the 2014 Rose Parade Grand Marshal.

“The most wonderful privilege about being president of the Tournament of Roses is two things,” R. Scott Jenkins said at the announcement that LA Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully would be the 2014 Grand Marshal on Thursday.  Number one is he gets to choose the theme, “Dreams Come True,” and number two is that he gets to choose the Grand Marshal.

After turning down the gig multiple times, Scully was finally convinced to bear the honors. We caught Jenkins as he was leaving the stage and asked how he scored Scully. The TOR president came close to your reporter and whispered, “Sandy.  One word.”  Sandy is Scully’s wife.

Scully was just about as perfect a choice as one can desire for the position, especially in a year of auspicious anniversaries: the 125th Rose Parade, the 100th Rose Bowl Game, the 100th anniversary of Tournament House, and the 65th year of Dodger baseball with Vin Scully.  Like the Tournament  Continue reading “A bittersweet goodbye and a fond memory of Dodgers announcer Vin Scully as Rose Parade Grand Marshal”